‘Be a Good Wingman’ Tackles Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is the No. 1 factor in fatal collisions in Saskatchewan. In 2016, there were 1,100 collisions involving alcohol or drugs, killing 57 people and injuring 464 others. Over the past decade, more than 600 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured. According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan has the highest impaired driving rate among all Canadian provinces, at 575 incidents per 100,000 population. The national average is 201.

For more than 60 years, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) has been proactive in traffic safety programs, education and legislation with a goal of preventing deaths, serious injuries and property damage due to traffic collisions. As a Crown Corporation, SGI also has a public mandate. The company administers the Saskatchewan Auto Fund, the province’s compulsory auto insurance program and the provider of its driver’s licensing and vehicle registration system. The vision for the Auto Fund is to “achieve the safest roads in Canada while caring for customers.”

Reducing the number of fatalities and injuries due to impairment is a safety issue and a significant challenge. Despite well-documented risks, stopping a friend from drinking and driving isn’t always easy. To effect positive change, friends and family need to be more assertive and drivers at risk must change their attitude and behaviors toward impaired driving.

Working with SGI, our opportunity was to engage people on an emotional level, inform, educate, raise awareness, build understanding and shift behaviors through a multi-faceted community-based campaign.

The challenge

Saskatchewan is a large province, with 160,000 kilometers of roadways. The province’s two largest cities have limited public transportation. Having a driver’s license is not a convenience. It is a necessity.

Drivers aged 25 to 44 account for the largest percentage (41.4) of impaired driving accidents. Men aged 16–34 are most often involved in collisions (40%), and there were more than twice as many male impaired drivers as female (68 percent versus 32 percent). Statistics show that most accidents happen on a weekend, between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., when people have a few drinks with friends or attend events where alcohol is available.

Focus groups conducted with people who admitted to driving while impaired showed:

  • Most felt impaired driving is frowned upon, but they still see it (and tolerate it) regularly in our society.
  • Falling down drunk will prompt an intervention with friends attempting to drive impaired, but not being buzzed or happy.
  • Most were not comfortable intervening at all if they didn’t know the person attempting to drive impaired.
  • Those who reported making positive changes in their drinking and driving behavior have often done so due to a personal experience or connection to someone directly involved.

Those who live or have lived in rural communities believe that drunk driving is more accepted in rural settings, due to the perception that only those in the vehicle could be injured. While all know that impaired driving is frowned upon, most appear to tolerate drinking and driving as part of our society, creating a further challenge in changing behavior and convincing people to intervene.

The multi-faceted community-based effort was designed to deliver clear messages about taking accountability for others who may think it’s OK to drink and drive. Stakeholder groups with aligned values and responsibilities were engaged in helping to spread the word about the campaign, and SGI employees were invited to be campaign ambassadors by helping to spread the messages.

Goals and objectives

  • Create ongoing engagement among audience groups to build a foundation for sustainable change
  • Shift perceptions that lead to people thinking it’s OK to drive after drinking and for friends that the right thing to do is intervene
  • Invite behavioral change among people who drink and drive and people who can prevent it by making sure they have a safe ride home


Number of click-throughs to SGI’s website (outcome – engagement) 12,000
Aided recall of “Crash” and “Friends” TV ads through post-campaign tracking (outcome: memorable, top-of-mind) 30%
Exceed the industry average of 15% for wear out (outcome – relevant) Note: Lower is more favorable 10%
Audience views of messages across social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (output – volume) 2 million
Audience view of messages to 100% completion across social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (outcome: engagement, awareness) 175,000
Exceed the emotional relevance score against the industry standard of 13% (outcome – engagement) 15%
Post campaign survey respondents believe the campaign will reduce impaired driving incidents (outcome-behavior) 10%

The key messages for the campaign were:

  1. Be a good wingman. Don’t let impaired friends
  2. Plan a safe ride home ahead of time. Lives depend on

The solution

To reach our objectives, we knew we needed more than a campaign. We needed the message to infiltrate our society, to be present on many levels and touchpoints. Creating three compelling television ads—“Wingman Crash,” “Wingman Friends” and “Holiday Wingman”—we implemented a multi-faceted plan that included paid media, community involvement, partnership plans and employee engagement.

Be a Good Wingman creative strategy

“Are you OK to drive?”

“Yep. I’m fine.”

This exchange was something we witnessed many times during our research and brainstorming phase of planning. People who are out drinking with their friends, sometimes for hours on end, would not admit to needing, nor suggest finding, an alternate ride home.

The most interesting part about this end-of-the-evening conversation was the matter-of-fact, almost scripted, exchange between lifelong friends. These same friends would move mountains and donate organs for each other if the need was there. Yet, they turned a blind eye, with the easy, welcomed declaration of “Yep, I’m fine.” Phew. But. They are your friend! What if something happened after they left? A collision, an injury or worse? Something that could have been avoided with the life-saving strategy of “Let’s share a cab” or “Jenny will pick us up.”

This was the birth of the rallying call to Be a Good Wingman. Be the one your friends can count on to look out for them. When life or death is on the line, as it is in our province, please, be a good wingman. Your friends deserve it.

The Wingman tattoo

The campaign logo was designed to resemble a tattoo.
The campaign logo was designed to resemble a tattoo.

To reach the audience on an emotional level we needed a relevant, cut-through visual beyond the traditional, conservative approach of government. We wanted to attach all the unique undertones of the tattoo industry to the personal importance of the message “Be a Good Wingman.”

  1. Tattoos are a statement; an expressive and traditionally rebellious way of communicating a
  2. Tattoos are personal. The subjects for most tattoos deal with love, emotion, strengths, struggles, family and friends. All the good
  3. Tattoos are permanent. This is serious. No going back. This is what people truly believe
  4. Tattoos are art. This is something people can identify with and

Multimedia channels

The campaign used television, movie theatres, radio, internet media channels (YouTube), social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), bar bathroom video screens, outdoor, various promotional items, and posters.

The campaign was launched with a compelling 60-second television ad telling the story of three friends growing up together. We watch them share moments and memories, create a lasting bond, and promise to always have each others’ backs. We built the characters and situations to be relatable, so the people of Saskatchewan could see themselves and their friends in this story. The “You OK to drive?” conversation is featured as a crucial turning point in the story. When one of the friends really needs the others’ help the most, they just allow him to get behind the wheel, with devastating results. That lifelong friendship is over.

TV commercials aired featuring two different endings: One ending in a car crash and another showing the desired behavior of friends intervening, where the character does not drive impaired.

The 60-second TV ad ran in movie theaters, on YouTube, and on social media. The Wingman wordmark was featured on billboards, t-shirts and posters throughout Saskatchewan to quickly build awareness and momentum for the Wingman program.

Community outreach

SGI has an internal community ambassador group, “The Safety Squad,” that takes their messaging out to various locations and events throughout the year. We developed apparel for their team, and produced banners, backdrops and giveaway items to bring our message of “Be a Good Wingman” to the community level.

We also leveraged the network of SGI insurance brokers in Saskatchewan to carry the message to all corners of the province. This channel made inroads in smaller rural communities where impaired driving is especially problematic.

We partnered with local bars and breweries to help spread the message even further, as an in-your-face reminder not to let friends drink and drive.

SGI’s 2,000 employees were also invited to be campaign ambassadors, spreading the message to their friends and family.

The results

Post-campaign tracking was conducted by Insightrix Research in September 2017. The following results are based on the combined results for three ads: Wingman Crash, Wingman Friends and Holiday Wingman.

Number of click-throughs to SGI’s website (output) 12,000 17,118
Aided recall of “Crash” and “Friends” TV ads through post-campaign tracking (outcome) 30% Crash: 37%
Friends: 31%
Exceed the industry average of 15% for wear out (based on responses to the statement “You are getting tired of seeing the ad”) Note: Lower is more favorable 10% 7%
Audience views of messages across social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (output) 2 million 2,829,143
Audience view of messages to 100% completion across social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (outcome) 175,000 228,801
Exceed the industry standard of 13% for emotional relevance to “The ad told you something that had meaning to you personally.” (outcome) 15% 39%
Post-campaign survey respondents believe the campaign will reduce impaired driving incidents (outcome) 10% 16%

On New Year’s Eve 2017 in Saskatchewan’s two major cities, Regina police reported a 50 percent decrease in impaired driving charges and in Saskatoon, only one impaired driving charge occurred out of 1,000 drivers screened.

In 2017, Saskatchewan reported the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1953.

This campaign won a 2018 IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence in the Safety Communication category. For more than 40 years, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards program has evaluated the work of communication professionals around the globe, recognizing the best of the best in the profession.


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